Dog sanctuary closes down
Swieqi complaints 'caused by owned dogs' not strays
A dog sanctuary in Bahar ic-Caghaq which has never been far from the headlines closed down yesterday, with the main volunteer declaring that she had 'won the war'.
The sanctuary had been the subject of complaints and court action by neighbours, but Maria Jenkins said it had all been worth it because the dogs were being re-homed or moved to other sanctuaries.
"Had we not taken them in they would still be roaming the streets, some would have died of disease or been hit by cars," Ms Jenkins said.
The transfer of the dogs to other sanctuaries was made with the help of the Animal Welfare Department - with the dogs getting hugs and kisses from the volunteers as they were carried into the vans. One of the dogs did, however, give officials a hard time by escaping. It was caught after a chase.
Dr Mario Spiteri, director of animal welfare said most of the dogs had been rehoused by the Association of Abandoned Animals and the Island Sanctuary. The process was not easy since all the sanctuaries were full up, he said.
But there had been many complaints at Bahar ic-Caghaq, with the area around the sanctuary having become something of a mecca for stray dogs.
He said the department had taken action over packs of stray dogs reported recently in Swieqi. Inspectors were in the area on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for several hours at night and they could declare that there were hardly any strays in the area. The problem, he said, appeared to actually stem from owned dogs which were left unattended. He said a number of owners had been warnedand no further complaints had since been made.
Ms Jenkins started working with dogs three years ago as the helper of dog lover Rennie Scicluna who set up the Animal Lovers' Association, a registered voluntary organisation.
Mr Scicluna has been incurring a daily fine of €4.65 since last year for ignoring a court order and continuing to keep dogs in the derelict building in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq. Following a neighbour's complaint, the court had ordered him to remove the dogs because the site was too close to people's homes and he did not have a permit to keep so many dogs.
Since then, Mr Scicluna stepped down from the association and Ms Jenkins ended up having to manage the sanctuary with the help of some volunteers.